Happy Halloween!

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I’m continuing my annual optimism this year! We’ve carved pumpkins, bought candy, and planned to be home tonight in case any little kiddos in the neighborhood are out trick or treating. Just need to dig out my witch hat and wait. Fingers crossed!

UPDATE: We have trick or treaters!! My very first since moving to the UK. We actually had so many that Peter dashed out to buy more candy. We definitely moved to the right neighborhood 🙂

Something Old, Something New…

As of late, I’ve been ending my work weeks on quite a cultured note. Last week, Peter and I attended a classical concert on Friday night and this week my friend Andrea and I went to an exhibit at the Victoria & Albert museum. When did I suddenly become so grown up?! I guess that’s what pregnancy does to you… 😉

This week, our Friday night started with a quick Lebanese dinner at Comptoir Libanais. I’d been wanting to try this restaurant for a while so I was thrilled when Andrea suggested it. The atmosphere was the right mix of casual and festive and all of the food looked incredible! I couldn’t decide on just one thing so I ended up ordering the mezze platter which was a little bit of everything. Such a great choice – I literally wiped the plate clean with pita bread at the end.

After dinner, we walked over to the Victoria & Albert for the Wedding Dresses: 1775 – 2014 exhibit. What a fun, girly thing to do on a dark and rainy Friday night! Pictures weren’t allowed in the exhibit but I took a few sneaky ones which I’ve included throughout this post.

As you’d expect, the exhibit starts with dresses from the 1700s and shows examples of the finest frocks of the time and also dresses from less affluent brides. At that time, it was not uncommon to wear your wedding dress for other occasions after the big day so many brides opted for colored or patterned material and detachable sleeves that could be removed after the church wedding.

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As the times (and exhibit) progressed, fashions changed and more modern, sleek silhouettes appeared. Gone were the enormous skirts and puffy sleeves. Especially in the 1930s, the most fashionable dresses had quite form-fitting cuts with very long trains. For some of the dresses, the exhibit incorporated video footage from the day, showing the bride in the dress and, in the case of celebrity weddings, the huge crowds gathered to catch a glimpse of the happy couple.

The upper level of the exhibit had all of the modern dresses — short, mod styles from the 60s, peasant style dresses from the 70s, and billowy costume-like gowns from the 80s. They even included wedding dresses from different cultures and celebrity frocks. Here’s an example of a dress from China and Gwen Stefani’s wedding dress from 2002.

Gwen Stefani’s pink dip-dyed dress designed by John Galliano was definitely a highlight for me in the exhibit. I’d seen the dress in pictures before and it always looked lovely on her. What I didn’t realize was just how crazy the actual design of the dress is! There are decorative zippers, asymmetrical folds, and diagonally placed buttons. The dress is fascinating. All the things you think shouldn’t or wouldn’t work actually do! The effect is beautiful but the individual elements seem insane.

Such a treat to see all these gowns in person. Makes me want to play dress up and get married to Peter all over again!

Allotment Done!

This morning, Peter and I went over to the garden plot and finished preparing the remaining third of the allotment for the winter. Boy, am I glad he came to along! He helped out with the heavy lifting and we finished in record time.

Here’s the finished product, all tucked in for the winter. Just needs a good rain to clean off the tarps.

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So how are we coming along with the BBAL so far? Well on our way with five complete! Hope you’re enjoying the adventures. I know I am 🙂

Can you guess which will be next?

  • Go apple picking
  • Attend a concert at St Martin in the Fields
  • Have German food and (non-alcoholic) beer at Katzenjammers bavarian bierkeller
  • Prepare my garden allotment for the winter
  • Eat at the Portrait Restaurant above the National Portrait Gallery
  • Visit the US
  • Go up the Shard or eat in one of the restaurants
  • See more musicals — Wicked, Mathilda, Lion King
  • See ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’
  • Go to an NFL game in London
  • See exhibits at the V&A Museum — Horst Photographer of Style, Wedding Dresses 1775 – 2014
  • Celebrate Guy Fawkes Day/ Bonfire Night
  • Host an Autumn gathering for friends
  • Get a fresh Christmas tree
  • Host a pre-Christmas gathering for friends
  • See a film at the historic Phoenix Cinema
  • Go on a ghost tour at Hampton Court Palace
  • Have another day at the races
  • Shop at Junior League’s Boutique de Noel fundraiser
  • Stargaze at the Hampstead Scientific Society Observatory
  • Sing Christmas carols somewhere festive
  • Visit the British Museum
  • Eat at the UK’s oldest Indian Restaurant, Veeraswamy
  • Carve pumpkins for Halloween
  • Visit Cheddar caves in Cheddar, England
  • Go to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Enjoy the Christmas lights on Regent Street
  • Volunteer with Junior League of London
  • Visit the Kensington Roof Gardens

Prost!

After having an amazing time at Oktoberfest in Munich five years ago, I always have a hankering for good German food and beer around this time of year. Munich wasn’t exactly in the cards for us this Autumn, so what’s a girl to do?

Enter: Katzenjammers, a tavern near London Bridge that serves up authentic German nosh and brews. Peter and I decided to check it out last night with some friends and it definitely lived up to our expectations. We got there in time for dinner and stayed on through drinking as the place filled up around us.

As you know, I’m not having any alcohol these days so I decided to get my fill of non-alcoholic beers and delicious German food instead. I absolutely gorged myself on an enormous portion of “Macaroni Mecklenberg” (basically, mac and cheese) and did my best with a cheese covered fresh pretzel.

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It was only after I was completely full and about to burst that I discovered they also serve beef sausages — if only I’d left some room for more!

One of the highlights of the evening was the brass band that came in to play contemporary hits. They just plonked themselves right in the middle of the bar and wailed away. It was fantastic!

IMG_20141018_210522Such a great night and definitely a place to go back to for a German-filled good time.

Date Night in Trafalgar Square

Last night, Peter and I took advantage of our “don’t need a babysitter” status and had a date night in Trafalgar Square. Our evening started with dinner at the Portrait restaurant on the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery. The restaurant overlooks Trafalgar Square and offers views of the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Shard in the distance. Portrait also has a two course pre-theater menu which suited us perfectly.

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We arrived at dusk and were seated right next to the window. I opted for a butternut squash soup starter and bream for my main. Peter had beef stew and a Jaffa cake inspired dessert. By the time we’d finished our meal, it was fully dark and the London skyline looked incredible. Unfortunately it was hard to take pictures without including reflections of the restaurant, but here’s the best I could do at capturing the scene.

Our next stop was a candlelit classical concert at St Martin-in-the-Fields. The program featured Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and also included some Vivaldi and Mozart.

We didn’t know group performing, London Concertante, before the concert but I would absolutely consider going to see another of their concerts or recommending it to a friend. One of their members introduced every piece with wit and charm. He also included random, interesting facts about the composers and their music which added so much to the evening. For example, did you know that Bach fathered 20 children or Vivaldi’s music fell into obscurity after his death only to be “rediscovered” in the 1920s? Learn something new every day…

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All in all, it was a really nice evening and made all the more special knowing that we won’t always be able to go out without getting a babysitter first! Also, that’s two more things ticked off the BBAL list.